Sunday, 6 August 2017

Growing support for for a 'plastic-free aisle' in supermarkets >>> "For years we’ve able to buy gluten-free, dairy-free, and fat-free, so why no plastic-free?"

Yesterday's i newspaper carried a piece by Ben Fogle who's been campaigning for some time on the desperate need to clear our oceans of plastic:
News, politics, comment and lifestyle - iNews the i newspaper online

Here he is writing earlier in the New Statesman:

How can we cure our addiction to plastic packaging and save the oceans?


We can no longer be complicit in destroying the marine environment.


Whether in the UK or overseas, I’ve always felt at home with the ocean. In 2005, I spent 49 punishing days at sea rowing across the Atlantic with Olympian James Cracknell. But it was swimming in South East Asia in 2016 that taught me most about the true state of our oceans in the age of plastic.

While filming a documentary about marine pollution last year, I dived into the Indian Ocean to explore what was lurking beneath the pristine surface. Seconds after entering the water, I was submerged in a soup of toxic plastic waste. Surrounded by litter, I narrowly avoided swallowing mouthfuls of toxic plastic debris. It soon became clear that few parts of the ocean remain untainted by the effects of mankind’s decades-long addiction to plastic packaging.

The problem is pretty dire in the Pacific Ocean, where marine litter has reached endemic levels. First discovered in the mid-eighties, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a toxic smog of plastic marine debris thought to cover an area as big as India. Here, plastic outweighs plankton by six to one.

Our oceans have reached breaking point. The never-ending stream of plastic detritus dumped in oceans each year is a curse on the plants and animals that call the ocean home. Plastic kills a million seabirds each year, many of whom endure death by choking on packaging. I’ve witnessed the grim autopsies of blue whales who are found to have stomachs clogged with throwaway packaging and plastic bottles.

While some of the worse plastic pollution I’ve seen has been in Asia, British waters are also scarred by marine litter. Go to any beach in Britain and grab a handful of sand. You will have picked up hundreds of micro pieces of plastic which will take hundreds of years to properly degrade. British beaches are also littered with cigarette butts, which consist of plastic fibres that take generations to fully decompose.

With the extent of the pollution crisis becoming more and more obvious, decisive remedial action is a must. Currently, shoppers who want to buy products that are not laden with excess plastic packaging have little to no choice. Glass bottles are in the midst of a steady decline as consumers are increasingly forced to choose the plastic version. Fruit and veg items protected by sturdy natural skins are encased in thick throwaway packaging for no good reason.

A plastic-free aisle in supermarkets would be a great way of giving consumers real choice over what they buy. Currently, shoppers can choose gluten-free and dairy-free, so why not plastic-free? With the world already saturated with plastic, we can no longer be complicit in the destruction of the marine environment. We can be the generation that confines plastic waste to the history books.

Ben Fogle is backing campaign group A Plastic Planet’s calls for a Plastic Free Aisle in supermarkets.
How can we cure our addiction to plastic packaging and save the oceans?

The particular campaign he is heading is calling for 'a plastic free aisle' in every supermarket:

A Plastic Planet - A Plastic Free Aisle

The press have really taken to it:
Supermarkets urged to create plastic-free aisle in every store - Telegraph
Supermarkets urged to introduce plastic-free aisle to help save the ocean - Sky News
Nine out of 10 people call for 'plastic-free aisle' in supermarkets, finds survey | The Independent

Here is a piece in the i newspaper from the Head of the Physical Oceanography Research Group at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton:

We need a plastic-free aisle in all supermarkets as our oceans reach breaking point

Plastic waste – much of it from supermarket goods – finds its way into the oceans in vast quantities. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Bob Marsh Wednesday June 21st 2017

Covering almost three-quarters of the earth, the world’s oceans often appear untainted by mankind’s worst excesses. Global seas are teeming with life, providing a home for a vast array of flora and fauna. Despite the pristine exterior, the tranquil surface belies the true extent of the plastic pollution crisis facing global oceans.

With our insatiable appetite for throwaway plastic showing no signs of letting up, we risk doing irreparable damage to global seas in the decades ahead.
From plastic bags to royal Tupperware

Since the first polyethylene bag appeared in the UK in the 1950s, plastic has been an ever-present feature of our day-to-day lives. Plastic has seared itself into British culture, with a royal footman in 2003 confirming that the Queen is served breakfast cereal from Tupperware containers.

Our decades-long addiction to plastic has come at a heavy price. We dump around 8 million tonnes of plastic into oceans each year, ensuring the planet’s seas are choking on our rubbish. Just 5% of the detritus is visible on the surface of the ocean, with most of the plastic debris submerged beneath.

Our collective failure to stem the tide of plastic pollution has proven catastrophic for hordes of marine life. Ocean plastic kills around a million seabirds and more than 100,000 animals each year.

In January 2016, 29 sperm whales stranded on shores around the North Sea were found to have died as a result of their stomachs becoming clogged with toxic plastic debris. Confusing plastic for food, the sperm whales choked to death on a hideous mix of discarded packaging and carrier bags.

The scourge of ocean plastic isn’t restricted to European waters. First identified in the mid-eighties, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an insidious smog of plastic marine debris thought to cover an area equivalent to the size of India. With plastic outnumbering plankton six to one, the consequences for wildlife have been dire. Death by plastic becoming an increasingly real prospect for scores of sea turtles and albatrosses.

Our oceans have reached breaking point. We simply can’t go on like this.
Recycling isn’t the whole solution

Recycling is often touted as the answer to the plastic crisis, but every piece of plastic ever made – unless it has been burned – still exists. Many developed economies have witnessed an explosion in recycling rates since the turn of the century, but the ocean rubbish heap is growing exponentially. Despite endless government initiatives to divert waste away from landfill, only a third of plastic waste is currently recycled in the UK

Clearly it would be ludicrous to call for a blanket ban on plastic packaging. Plastic remains a versatile and useful material. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take decisive steps to reduce our reliance on it. A good start would be to make it easier for consumers to choose products not laden with throwaway plastic packaging.

Campaign group A Plastic Planet is bidding to convince UK supermarkets that a Plastic Free Aisle would be both good for business and the environment. It’s clear that providing a supermarket aisle featuring only goods sold in biodegradable packaging would empower shoppers to reject goods laden with single-use plastic.

With global seas in the midst of an existential crisis, UK plc has to step up and take the lead in tackling the scourge of ocean plastic.

Professor Robert Marsh is Head of the Physical Oceanography Research Group at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

We need a plastic-free aisle in all supermarkets as our oceans reach breaking point - The i newspaper online iNews

See also:
Futures Forum: Cutting plastic from your weekly shop

Futures Forum: The UK pledges action to reduce plastic waste in the world's oceans - "to lead the world in environmental protection"
Futures Forum: Cotton buds, shotgun wads, plastic toys, and Lego washed up on a Cornish beach give "a shocking insight into the scale of global ocean plastic pollution"
Futures Forum: What's your plastic footprint? ... Eat water, don't drink it

Futures Forum: The plastics industry is "incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture."

1 comment:

Jule said...

Yes to a plastic free aisle in supermarkets!
I would love to see more bulk in the bigger supermarkets, but also more allowance to bring your own container.
But this plastic free aisle in the Netherlands that is full of compostable bio plastic is not a solution for me yet. Too many cities don't allow compostable plastic in the compost facilities and yet too many people don't know how to dispose their trash sadly ;)
But we will see what the future brings! Until then I will only buy the plastic free products we already have ;) http://www.thehappychoices.com/blog/plastic-free-shopping-in-supermarkets